Utrecht ready for Ajax challenge

BY foxsports • February 26, 2010

The Dutch top-flight's top three sides were all in European action on Thursday night, and it is Ajax who face the toughest assignment when they return to league duties on Sunday. Leaders PSV Eindhoven face bottom club RKC Waalwijk, while second-placed FC Twente tackle mid-table NEC Nijmegen, also at home. Ajax, however, must face a Utrecht team who sit sixth, eager to shore up their chances of a spot in the European play-off places. Utrecht coach Ton du Chatinier knows Ajax represent a daunting task in Amsterdam, where they are unbeaten all season, but he believes his side have a chance to break that streak. After seeing how Vitesse Arnhem were swept aside 4-0 last weekend, he said: "They scored very easily. It will not be an easy afternoon for us. "Perhaps it is an advantage for us that they will have a European game in their legs from Thursday. But clubs like PSV and Ajax have a big squad to deal with that." Utrecht come into the game on the back of a 2-0 win over NAC Breda last weekend, their first win in 2010, and Du Chatinier is now looking up. "That was a nice win, because the pressure had been building," he said. "There are 10 rounds left and the differences between the teams are small. A lot of teams must also play against each other." With the top two - like Ajax unbeaten at home - expected to win their games comfortably, the best the Amsterdammers are likely to be playing for is to remain six points behind Twente in the race for an automatic Champions League spot. Feyenoord, 11 points adrift of Ajax but comfortably above fifth-placed AZ Alkmaar, face a tough fixture as they travel to take on FC Groningen. Back to back victories have lifted Groningen into the Europa League play-off places, although they are only above NAC on goal difference. NAC travel to face Sparta Rotterdam, who have been in decent form, beating VVV Venlo and then earning a highly-creditable draw against PSV in Eindhoven last weekend, only the second time PSV have dropped points at home this season. However, Sparta remain only two points above the drop zone and still have plenty of work to do. Their job could get harder if ADO Den Haag can begin the weekend's action on Friday night with a victory over Roda JC. ADO sit 16th, but are only one point behind Vitesse and two behind Sparta. Roda are 12th, but travel to the capital sporting an away record of only two wins and two draws in 12 fixtures. Should ADO win or draw, Vitesse will fall into relegation trouble ahead of their match against AZ on Saturday. Also on Saturday, Heerenveen take on Heracles Almelo and Willem II face VVV-Venlo.